Reach for your Trainers!

Let me apologise in advance. I suspect this blog may be responsible for a large number of pulled muscles, bad backs and visits to the physio. TAB/York’s first New Year’s resolution, given out a month early – we all need to get fitter.

Not for the usual reasons – you unexpectedly caught sight of yourself in a mirror; you’ll finally be able to get back into your favourite jeans. No, it’s something rather more sordid than that. Money.

As usual, we have to go to the States for the evidence. Two economists at the University of Texas conducted a long term study. They came to two conclusions:

  • Fit, good-looking people earn more money (on average, around $5,000 a year according to our economists)
  • And they earn more for their companies as well (which is probably why they’re paid more)

 Can that be true? Does physical appearance have anything to do with success and earnings? There’s an urban myth in the States that the taller of the two major party candidates always wins the Presidential Election. Is that right?

Well, there have been 28 presidential races since 1900 – the taller candidate has won 19 times, with Senator Short winning 7. And no, my maths isn’t wrong – there have been two presidential races where the candidates were the same height. (Mind you, if we follow that theory to its logical conclusion then the Republicans should forget Sarah Palin and persuade Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan to run against Obama in 2012.)

But consider this. A survey of Fortune 500 CEO’s in 2005 found that their average height was six feet – or two to three inches taller than average. And 30% of the CEO’s were 6’2” or more – compared to only 3.9% of the US male population.

So which do you reach for? Platforms or trainers? Sadly, it’s the trainers. You can’t do much about your height: the vast majority of us can get fitter.

Why is being fit an advantage in business? Let’s start at the beginning. Every study I’ve come across – UK, America, Japan and India – indicates that children who are physically fit do better at school. The popular stereotype of the ‘dumb jock’ simply isn’t born out by the statistics. And what’s true at school is true in the office. Being fitter will help you think more clearly, work effectively for longer and – as we enter another challenging year – avoid stress. (You’ll also look taller, if you’re still hankering after a political career.)

Now I have to move from the empirical to the anecdotal. Every successful person I ever met did something in their spare time that physically challenged them. I thought I’d found the exception when I was at the TAB conference in Denver. I was talking about fitness and business to the (toned and very successful) owner of the Denver Board. “I don’t do much,” he said. “Walk the dog four or five times a week, that’s all.”

I looked at the concrete jungle surrounding us. “Where?” I said.

He pointed at a peak in the distance. As far as I could tell it was about 3,000 feet high and three miles away. “Up there,” he said.

So the story for 2011 is get fit. We all look better when we’re fitter and – politically correct or not – the stats are there for everyone to see. Maybe I should introduce a dress code for future Board meetings – shorts and T-shirts…



  1. Rich Cadden · November 25, 2010

    And fortunately, as a member of one of Ed’s Boards, a two-times world champion sportsman and qualified personal trainer, I will open an offer to all TAB Members.
    If you are interested in taking action on this, and you want to make a dramatic change, I will offer 6-sessions for the price of 5. Please contact me on

    Ed: Please forgive the shameless plug, but I think it adds value as a ‘one-stop shop’! 🙂

    • edreidyork · November 25, 2010

      Rich – no problems with shameless plugs – let’s see who’s really serious about their fitness!

  2. Dick Jennings · November 25, 2010

    I’m going to argue with you on this, Ed. (Typical bloody lawyer, you’ll say.)

    You suggest fitness leads to better performance. To some degree that is bound to be right since being very unfit seems likely to hurt performance. But at the top end of performance, isn’t it more likely that being highly motivated leads to BOTH fitness in health and fitness in business?

    In other words it’s being a self-starter which really sorts out the sheep and goats. Fitness is a fellow consequence, more than a cause.

    • edreidyork · November 25, 2010

      I may concede that point Dick; I think the self-starter element is fundamental. Nothing like a bit of debate on cause and sympton!!

  3. Rich Cadden · November 25, 2010

    As our lifestyles now lean more towards the sedentary, I think bringing in to alignment the mind and body, between business and fitness, this is what leads to higher performance.
    These are the fundamentals of yin and yang in Taoism. Being overly dominant on one side, leads to an out-of-balance of the whole….and this is the discourse which leads to disease, or should I say dis-ease between mind and body. This can be manifested in a number of ways, but people tend to wait until breaking point to take action.
    So, in order to re-establish balance, you can either step back from the business and reduce stress levels that way or simply to be more active….. I think I know which seems like the right choice

  4. Neil Huntington · November 26, 2010

    A classic chicken and egg debate here in my opinion and the answer is irrelevant.

    If you are unfit and it bothers you, get fit, if you don’t know how, get help.

    If you are unsuccessful, analyse why and do something about it, if you don’t know how, get help.

    Success can be fleeting and life is short, if you are successful don’t waste it finding out why, enjoy every second.

    • edreidyork · November 29, 2010

      Morning Neil – that’s a beautifully straightforward philosophy – love it!

  5. Rich Cadden · November 29, 2010

    Getting fit does sound simple and common sense…and it is…. WHEN you know the route.
    It is a specific science in knowing how our bodies react and respond to physical demands. And this is why as a good personal trainer, I will discuss your goals before we start training and plan the correct way to get to your goal.

    Its like trying to get to London in the car, without having any direction. Sooner or later you may end getting there, but the quickest way, you’d use a sat-nav or map to plan the route.

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